High school football coach Rob Mendez, who was born without arms or legs, will receive the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at next month's ESPYs, ESPN announced on Tuesday.
Mendez was born with the rare disorder tetra-amelia syndrome and was unable to play football growing up despite his passion for the sport. He taught himself the fundamentals of the game using Madden—playing by tucking a controller under his chin—before serving as a manager in high school.
Mendez then spent 12 years as an assistant coach and became a junior varsity head coach at Prospect High School in Saratoga, Calif. in 2018. His team posted an 8–2 record before losing a close game in the championship.
"I am incredibly honored, excited and humbled to receive this honor,” Mendez said in ESPN's press release. "I still remember one of my favorite all-time ESPN anchors Stuart Scott delivering his Jimmy V Award acceptance speech. Thank you to ESPN and all of my family, friends and of course players for believing in me! Who Says I Can’t!"
Before he accepts the award at the 2019 ESPYs, Mendez took the time to share a touching letter to the game of football.
"The game has given me a life that nobody believes a man in a wheelchair born without arms and legs could have," he wrote in an ESPN story published Tuesday. "Together, we've proved all of them wrong. And it's only the beginning."
Mendez said he has high hopes for the future and is considering pursuing the NFL's minority coaching intern program one day.
"Twenty years down the road, I hope to be an established, respected football coach," he wrote. "Not a great coach for a man without arms and legs, but a great coach, period."
The ESPYs air on Wednesday, July 10 at 9 p.m. ET.